Did you know that Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act was the first of its kind in Canada when it was enacted in 1975?
The provincial government is looking to modernize Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act. There are three key changes they are looking to make “to ensure strong environmental protections, while eliminating duplication, streamlining processes, providing clarity to applicants, improving service standards to reduce delays, and better recognize other planning processes that have evolved over the past four decades.”
At the local level, the proposed changes could have positive impacts with the exemption of low-risk activities such as bike lanes. The City is currently
planning to add more bike lanes on Charlotte Street as part of that street’s redevelopment. Clarifying the Minister’s authority could also have an impact on the Parkway, which is currently under a Ministerial order.
The following are being proposed as amendments to the Environmental Assessment Act:
"The OCC is broadly supportive of the proposals in the paper as measures to ensure a more efficient and streamlined Environmental Assessment (EA) process is welcomed by the Ontario business community.
Traditionally, regulations are often seen as necessary to reduce risk, however, in practice, poorly designed and complex regulations stifle entrepreneurial activity, often with minimal benefit to the public. As Ontario businesses evolve and grow, it is of critical importance that our regulatory environment is reflective of our ever-changing industry and economy. This is particularly significant with respect to Ontario’s EA process.
The OCC has continually heard from our members as to how the current EA process significantly impacts a variety of significant projects from progressing. For example:
economic development potential. This is of concern when seeking foreign investment in our province, as business will be deterred by an out-of-date EA process when
compared to that of other jurisdictions.
With respect to the discussion paper, the OCC is supportive of the proposed changes.
As our economy advances, so too must our regulatory environment. A modern regulatory regime that is flexible, simple, and easy to navigate will help ensure Ontario continues to be an attractive place for businesses to invest, grow, innovate, and create high-quality jobs.
Providing clarity and carrying out impact assessments throughout the process will inspire business confidence and investment—key drivers of Ontario’s economic prosperity."
While the comment period on these proposed changes is closed, the government says there will be consultations on any regulations developed as a result of the changes.